The Raiders roster came together on Monday, with rookies joining veterans for the first time during this offseason program. The union will remain all spring and summer, as a massive roster trims to 53.
It is not 90 strong at this point.
The puzzle’s missing two pieces, including one highly-touted member of this year’s draft class. Third-round defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes can’t participate in OTAs and the team’s June minicamp, as NBC Sports California reported last week, due to an NFL rule that prohibits players from working until their school’s academic year concludes.
UCLA’s spring quarter wraps June 16, meaning Vanderdoes can’t practice with the team until training camp. Undrafted linebacker Nicholas Morrow is in a similar circumstance due to a late May finals week at Greenville College, but he’ll be involved in some workouts.
Vanderdoes will miss them all, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t staying involved. The Auburn native has to practice from long distance, but he's doing everything the Raiders do. He's taking on-field reps. He’s watching all the practice and game film his teammates watch.
Technology makes that possible.
“I have a team iPad with me, so I have literally everything you can imagine right here with me,” Vanderdoes said Tuesday in an interview with NBC Sports California. “I have all the practice installs and play installs. I can watch film of whatever game or practice they’re looking at that day.
“Right now, they’re doing individual workouts (in position groups). I’m able to see what drills they’re doing and am able to emulate those at UCLA. I can set up the equipment the exact same way and do everything they’re doing. I’m not there, but I’m still doing the same things that they are. I wouldn’t consider myself behind, and I won’t have to catch up when I come back.”
Vanderdoes can speak with defensive line coach Jethro Franklin any time to fill gaps, so he’ll stay up-to-speed on schematics and terminology. Vanderdoes can share film of his workouts to make sure he’s doing everything right.
Doing everything right would be Vanderdoes’ goal if he were in Alameda. It’s the same in Los Angeles, where he trains at Proactive Sports Performance and UCLA’s campus.
Being productive while missing a rookie offseason program is mandatory for UCLA products, who must adjust to the school’s late academic calendar whether they were enrolled for the spring quarter or not.
Fellow former UCLA defensive tackle and Kenny Clark went through the experience a year ago. Green Bay’s 2016 first-round pick had some simple, yet sage advice for his good friend.
“Get into that playbook, learn the plays and be patient,” Vanderdoes said. “You have to re-earn respect from your teammates and coaches and the organization. I’m coming in, starting from ground zero and working my way up.”
Being consistent and detail oriented on the practice field and in the meeting room is key to earning stripes. Vanderdoes understands that, and is completely devoted to realizing vast potential.
“My whole mentality is about taking it to the next level as a professional,” Vanderdoes said. “That involves everything, from the way I take notes, to how I’m learning and putting in extra work away from the facility. I want to show I’m a next-level professional. That’s my mindset right now, to learn the playbook and techniques they want you to master. Everything will fall into place if I do that.”